The Remarks Of Speaker Sheldon Silver

United Federation Of Teachers Annual Lobby Day

Crowne Plaza Hotel, Ballroom, Albany, NY
Tuesday, March 1, 2011 [11 am]

As Prepared for Delivery

President Mulgrew. Teachers. Parents. Members and Friends of the United Federation of Teachers (UFT).

On behalf of our dedicated and distinguished Education Committee Chair, Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan, and all of our colleagues in the Assembly's Democratic Conference, I am delighted to welcome the UFT to Albany.

I know I speak for all of the City's public school teachers, parents and students who wish they could be here today when I say "thank you," for coming to Albany, and "thank you" for standing up for public education.

May I also take a moment to acknowledge a friend, a partner, and one of this state's stronger and more effective labor leaders, Michael Mulgrew. Your president, what a terrific job he does under extraordinarily difficult circumstances.

And let us not forget that our state would not and could not have been among the winners in the "Race to the Top" were it not for the leadership and the hard work of Mike Mulgrew and the UFT.

Mike, we appreciate your leadership and we are grateful to have you as a partner as we work to improve our public schools and ensure that each and every student receives the knowledge and skills they desperately need to compete in today's fast-paced, high-tech world.

The situation here in New York State is like those in a majority of the states across our nation.

We're facing a massive, multi-billion-dollar budget gap. We need to cut spending. Tough, painful decisions have to be made. Programs and services that New Yorkers depend on will be reduced or eliminated all together.

To his great credit, the Governor - within a very tight window of time - has put forward a budget that makes tough spending cuts.

Make no mistake about it, we are working with him and with the Senate to deliver a final state budget on time.

What Cathy Nolan and I and our Assembly Majority colleagues are working hard to obtain is the maximum amount of "fairness." The term of art is "shared sacrifice" and that is what we want, the sacrifice to be shared by all New Yorkers.

What we're seeing in Wisconsin and Ohio, all of the media attacks on the teachers unions and the public employees unions, are just the next phase of that strategy of mass distraction intended to keep middle-class families from noticing that the income gap and the achievement gap is growing wider by the day.

What we need is "fairness." So, once again, I am calling upon the UFT to work with us, to help us shrink the cuts that have been proposed, so that another generation of children will not be shortchanged the sound, basic education to which they are entitled.

One more thing before I go.

Everyone who was elected to serve in our State Capitol was, at some point in their lifetimes, energized and enlightened by parents who took an interest and by professional teachers who instilled in us the love of learning and the quest for knowledge.

We know how important teachers are. You are the molders and shapers of civilization and you deserve respect for honoring your calling to teach our children.

Thank you for being here. Please make the most of your day in Albany.

Make your voices heard loudly and clearly.

Keep up the good fight for education and together, let's put this state and its children on course for a better, brighter future.

Thank you